ROCK HILL, SC—Winthrop’s women used a 41-11 run to span the first and second half en route to a 68-46 non-conference victory over North Carolina Central on Tuesday night at the Winthrop Coliseum.
The Eagles are now 10-4 on the season as they reached the 10 win mark faster than any Winthrop team since the school became a NCAA Div. I member in 1986-87. The last time a Winthrop women’s team opened a season at 10-4 was in 1983-84 when they were members of the NAIA. NCCU’s record drops to 5-8 as they lost for the fourth straight time.
“It’s good that we are getting all of this recognition, but at the same time there is still a lot more that we can accomplish,” said senior guard Tiffany Charles, who got her first start of the season and scored 11 points for the second straight game.
Freshman Erica Williams led all scorers in the game with 16 points. Joining her and Charles in double figures were Dequesha McClanahan with 13 and Taylor Calvert with 10. Racquel Davis led three NCCU players in double digits as she finished with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Winthrop had to overcome a sluggish start that saw NCCU jump out to a 21-12 lead in the first 11 minutes of the game. Winthrop connected on just four of its first 21 field goals and had more turnovers than made shots midway of the first half.
Williams got the Eagles rolling when she made two free throws with 5:17 left in the first half to start a 10-run to pull Winthrop within a point at 21-20 with just under four minutes remaining. After NCCU’s Khyra Conerly gave her team a three-point lead with a layup. Williams scored the final eight points of the half to send Winthrop to halftime leading 28-26.
Winthrop used a full-court press to its advantage in the final five minutes of the first half and continued to press the visiting Eagles through most of the second half as the lead ballooned to 21. Charles began and ended the 25-6 second half spurt with a jumper in the lane to open the period and a layup with 11:44 remaining in the contest to put Winthrop up 53-32. McClanahan, who led Winthrop with nine rebounds and six assists, scored eight points during that stretch.
Winthrop played without center Schaquilla Nunn for the second straight game. She is awaiting results of tests performed earlier in the day on a knee that had been bothering her since the UNC Asheville game on Jan. 2. Without Nunn, who ranks 12th in the nation for blocked shots and is tied for 15th in rebounding, Winthrop was able to win the battle on the boards, 46-45. In addition to McClanahan’s nine rebounds, Williams finished with eight and freshman Ronata Rogers came off the bench to grab a season-high seven.
Winthrop finished the game shooting 35 percent from the field (23-66) and went 19 of 22 from the free throw line. The defense held NCCU to 29 percent shooting (18-62) overall and 3 of 12 from behind the arc. The visitors were seven of 10 from the free throw line.
When asked about Nunn’s absence following the game, Cook said, “We’ve got a deep ball club. There’s a lot of talent here. I think the encouraging thing is we haven’t been close to putting it all together this season. I am looking forward to the day, as are the players to that day because when we hit on all cylinders, it’s going to be something special.”
Winthrop will travel to Radford for a Thursday night game that closes out a stretch of six games over a 12-day span. Tip-off time for that game is set for 7:00 p.m.